Stormers suffer first home defeat of season after going down to the Chiefs
The Chiefs’ scrum was the unexpected dominant part of their the game, which ultimately led to the visitors inflicting a first home defeat on the Cape side this season.
The match was a titanic struggle throughout but a penalty try 15 minutes from time after the Stormers’ scrum twice crumbled close to its line, earned the Chiefs a vital 15-9 win.
Defeat has put the Stormers’ Super Rugby play-off ambitions on life support while keeping the Chiefs’ waning challenge alive.
Overall the Chiefs dominated possession and territory to secure their fourth win in fifth outing at Newlands since 2015.
Despite the Stormers the better of the early exchanges, it was the Chiefs that scored the first try of the match, which had its genesis inside their own half.
Flyhalf Damian McKenzie hit a raking cross-field kick from his own 10-metre line that bisected the covering Stormers’ duo of wing Dillyn Leyds and fullback SP Marais. A kind bounce found wing Solomon Alaimalo, who was cut down, but not before offloading to centre Anton Leinert-Brown for the score.
It was a typical piece of imagination and clinical execution by the Chiefs and ushered in a 10-minute period where they had momentum, forcing the Stormers on to the back foot.
The home side coped well enough and once they had ridden out the danger created some gilt-edged chances that they failed to round off.
Six minutes before the break centre Damian de Allende had the ball knocked out of his grasp five metres short of the tryline with an open Raymond Rhule outside him. That generosity to the visitors was costly.
With the match on a tightrope all the way through, even half chances had to be taken but both sides defended as if their seasons depended on it – which they did.
Leyds made a stunning covering tackle on Alaimalo early in the second half to keep the Stormers within a score.
Soon after Damian McKenzie missed a long-range penalty shot at goal for his third miss of the afternoon moments before great work at the breakdown by Damian de Allende earned the Stormers a penalty in front of the Chiefs posts. Willemse duly landed it to give the Stormers the lead.
But it was always tenuous as the visitors ratcheted up the pressure, forcing the Stormers into almost permanent defence.
Heroic tackling and organisation kept the Chiefs at bay, but there was only so much pressure the home side could keep a lid on before the seal burst.
After what seemed like hours buried in their 22, repelling white shirts and several referee Mike Fraser’s whistle, the Chiefs were awarded a penalty try, which settled the matter.
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